A billboard in a North Carolina city lampooned U.S. President Joe Biden on Aug. 17 over his handling of the Afghanistan crisis after the pull-out of American troops from the war-torn country.
The digital billboard, located on Racine and Eastwood Avenue in Wilmington, a city with a population of approximately 120,000 residents, displayed a meme-style image of Biden eating ice cream with a stunned look on his face overlaid on top of a photo of a Chinook helicopter airlifting U.S. Embassy staff from the roof after the Taliban took seized control of Kabul.
A second image displayed on the billboard depicted Biden peeking out from behind blinded windows. Some on social media hypothesized the meme was a reference to Biden both leaving for vacation to Camp David after ordering the pull out and returning to Camp David immediately after flying to Washington for a brief Aug. 17 press conference where he answered no questions from the media.
A video posted on YouTube by a local resident showed the meme images rotated through the billboard’s normal advertising cycle.
Multiple reports from Wilmington-based big media affiliates conflicted each other as to the origin of the advertisements. An Aug. 18 article by ABC branch WWAY3 said the owner of the company who runs the billboard, Tedder Outdoor Advertising, said, “Someone anonymously dropped off an envelope with money and instructions for the billboard inside.”
But the same day, a report by NBC branch WECT6 paraphrased owner Donald Tedder as saying, “The advertisement was purchased by an individual, but he was unable to give the name of his client due to privacy concerns.”
WECT6 continued, “It’s not the first time Tedder has published billboards that have garnered attention…He has sold advertising space to both sides of the political spectrum…and for groups like PETA…He also was clear that he would have published a billboard praising the President and that this was not his personal ad, simply a business transaction for him.”
The outlet noted that an advertisement that is simply political in nature does not meet state or federal requirements for funding disclosure.
The New York Post quoted Tedder as commenting the anonymous purchaser was, “disappointed by what has been happening” with his country’s handling of Afghanistan, adding Tedder’s comments on the results of his client’s ad buy, “I think it worked better than we expected it to.”
The Post paraphrased Tedder as saying the advertisement would run for several weeks, had an overwhelmingly positive response, and had elicited additional purchase inquiries from customers in Florida, Tennessee, Washington, and Virginia.
Tedder said he hopes drivers who see the statements, “Start questioning what the country is doing and what they themselves are doing to make this country a better place.”
In related news, Abdulhaq Omeri, a correspondent for Afghan-based TOLO News, published a photo in an Aug. 17 tweet showing alleged Taliban insurgents posing for the camera while holding ice cream, an apparent mockery of the U.S. president.
Ice cream is a common theme in Biden photo ops. A search on Getty Images for “Biden Ice Cream” shows 83 results. The newest, a July photo op staged for the President in Michigan. The oldest, from the Obama-Biden campaign trail in 2008 taken in Pennsylvania.